Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has unveiled a new qualification teaching students how to crack down on rogue landlords.
The Mayor said he wants to instill tougher penalties on rogue operators due to the high number of homes in poor condition across the capital, while he also reiterated a desire to introduce rent controls in London.
The qualification, funded by the Mayor, will train local authority housing enforcement officers to properly weed out rogues, support tenants and ensure properties are in a decent condition.
The course is called Advanced Private Sector Housing Regulation and is a year long level five qualification delivered by Middlesex University and accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
Khan said: “Every single Londoner deserves a secure, safe and comfortable home. Nearly a fifth of London’s private rented accommodation doesn’t meet basic standards and it is clear that more needs to be done to support tenants.
“I want to see tougher penalties for rogue operators and this action can only come from the government.
“Poor housing conditions and exploitative rents have an awful impact on both the physical and mental health of tenants and these actions need to have consequences.
“With the cost-of-living spiralling, Londoners also need the government to give us the power to bring in rent controls, which May’s election gave us a clear mandate for.
“I also want to see boroughs empowered to stand up for tenants. This new qualification will give councils across London the workforce and expertise to mediate disputes, enforce standards and crackdown on the rogues who give the many honest operators in the sector a bad name.”
The course will focus on law and governance, housing and public health, tenancy sustainment, housing condition and intervention, as well as work-based learning.
It’s intended for those with little prior experience in environmental health or private rental housing.
Alongside the announcement the Mayor published figures that show nearly a fifth of privately rented homes (18%) fail the government’s Decent Homes Standard and private renters in London are disproportionately likely to be defined as ‘vulnerable’ compared to the rest of the country.
He also brought up a a 2019 report from the trade union Unison, which represents council staff. This found that environmental health budgets per head of population had more than halved over the previous decade.
Dr Phil James, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said: “We are delighted to work together with the Mayor of London to develop this important qualification.
“It should give London councils the route to train up members of their teams with the skills needed in order to support tenants, do more inspections of rented properties and to take more enforcement actions against unscrupulous landlords, who rent out dangerous and unhealthy homes in the city.
“Unfortunately, there are currently not enough qualified environmental health practitioners for local authorities to recruit.
“We have been working hard to change this, both through our public facing campaigns like #ChooseEnvironmentalHealth, where we have been generating new interest in the profession.
“And our call to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to create a national apprenticeships fund for local authorities, to help local areas fund the cost of training up more environmental health practitioners.”